As the commencement of the 2023/2024 academic year draws near, thousands of students are eagerly anticipating offers from third-level educational institutions across the state. This annual milestone invariably brings with it a hurried search for suitable accommodation.
Regrettably, with many property owners choosing to sell-up and leave the rental market due to unfavourable conditions, the supply of available rentals to meet the burgeoning student demand will be an even larger issue this year. Such a scenario has, unfortunately, opened the student rental market to unscrupulous actors who seek to defraud students and their families of deposits.
In light of these challenges, the Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) is advocating for heightened vigilance among students when embarking on their accommodation search.
To safeguard against potential pitfalls and prevent fraudulent payments from being made, prospective tenants are strongly encouraged to follow some practical advice:
- Request tangible proof of property ownership from potential landlords. Examples of such documentation may include verifiable insurance records or Local Property Tax (LPT) receipts.
- Be wary of accommodation only advertised on social media or if the person offering a rental will only communicate with you via messaging applications like WhatsApp.
- Be vigilant if there is an unusual sense of urgency by the ‘landlord’ in securing a deposit.
- Be wary of rents that are ‘too good to be true’.
- Before you pay any money, ensure you have inspected the property and that the property is suitable for your requirements.
- When satisfied, make payment and ensure you receive a receipt from the person you have identified as the owner or agent.
- Be cautious if the property owner is consistently unable to, or refuses to meet you in person.
- Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have. A legitimate property owner will be happy to answer, remember – it’s your money!
Speaking today, Mary Conway, Chair of the IPOA said “While it is disheartening that these precautions have become necessary, the presence of unscrupulous actors across various sectors, not just in the rental market, necessitates that people are ultra-vigilant when paying deposits. The IPOA will continue to hold an unwavering commitment to safeguarding the good reputation of our members and in turn protecting their prospective tenants from fraud.”
In the dynamic landscape of rental accommodations, students entering the market for the first time are advised to acquaint themselves with the pertinent legal regulations. A good starting point for this is the Residential Tenancies Board website – www.rtb.ie.
“We urge students to take caution when applying for rental accommodation and paying deposits this year until they are satisfied that they are dealing with a legitimate property owner or their agent. By taking a vigilant approach, we can stamp out the practice of those falsely claiming to be property owners and safeguard people’s hard-earned money” Ms. Conway concluded.